News in Brief 14 January 2015


East Africa: One Net operational - Uganda has joined Kenya and Rwanda in implementing the One Network Area (ONA). ONA will see calls being charged at local rates irrespective of which country a user is making calls from. This follows decisions made by the heads of states during the Northern Corridor Integration Programs Initiative summit held last year. Regional leaders of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda recently called for the speedy implementation of the One Network Area to have the cost of calling around the region drop by end of January 2015.

Ghana: Ericsson expertise - Tigo Ghana has signed Ericsson to manage and improve its network quality and service delivery. Tigo will extend its footprint and deliver superior network quality using Ericsson?s technology and expertise.

Botswana: Targeted texts - Orange Botswana is partnering with Incepta Communications & PR to launch a mobile advertising service. Dubbed Orange Makoya, the service is due to be launched by the end of January. The mobile works by sending SMS alerts to selected prospective buyers with brand offers and promotions from their chosen categories. 

Guinea: Convenient Canal+ - Orange Guinea reports that users can re-subscribe to Canal + using Orange Money. Subscriptions can now be renewed month by month without making a long-term commitment. To complete the renewal process, a subscriber number and the last 5 digits of the decoder card is required.

Jordan: International incentive - Zain Jordan has launched a new offer for its international roaming service that targets post-paid users and corporate customers in five top travel destinations of Egypt, Lebanon, UAE, UK and Turkey. Subscribers will enjoy 30 free call receiving minutes in UAE, Lebanon and Turkey and 60 free call receiving minutes in Egypt and UK for a fixed subscription fee of JOD 5 (USD 5.94) valid for 30 days.

Kenya: Inter-group roaming - Safaricom is to offer reduced roaming rates in 21 countries in North and Central Africa, Europe and New Zealand; and subscribers travelling to Rwanda and the UAE are to have reduced rates for calls to Kenya. Following the signing of a new agreement with Vodafone affiliates, for just KES 200, subscribers can access up to 10 minutes of voice services, 10 SMS, and 10MBs of data in 21 countries. 

Lesotho: Competiton courted - The Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) has engaged Incyte Consulting to assist with the development of an appropriate competition management regime. The LCA says that Incyte has completed the Draft Second Report on the proposed Competition Management Regime. and the LCA is inviting stakeholders and members of the general public to submit comments here.

Mozambique: Registration checker - mcel has launched its Registration Consultation service, allowing pre-paid users to see if their number is registered or not. Users send an SMS with the text 'consulta' to the number 82 2025 and then receive a SMS showing their number's status.

Middle East: Regional head named - Ericsson has appointed Mohamad Dergham as its new Head of North Middle East region. Dergham takes the new role after several years as Ericsson's country manager in Iraq. Having been with Ericsson since 2001, he has held several posts within the company and in the region.

Nigeria: Broadband plan - The Government has revealed plans to connect 50 percent of the population to 3G broadband during 2015. The Ministry of ICT is implementing its 'Wireless Broadband Infrastructure Upgrade and Expansion Phase 1' under the National Broadband Plan 2013-2018. As well as ensuring all new mobile sites are LTE-compatible, the Ministry will also articulate measures for complete digital dividend spectrum migration and so release further spectrum for LTE through the NCC.

Nigeria: Sporting sponsorship - President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Alhaji Issa Hayatou, has applauded Globacom for renewing the sponsorship deal for the Glo-CAF Awards for the third time. Globacom also signed a fresh deal with the Confederation to sponsor the annual African Player of the Year Awards for another four years.

Oman: Account receivables - Oman Investment and Finance Company (OIFC) announced last week that Omantel has extended the contract for the provision of factoring services for accounts receivables. The contract has been extended to 31 December 2016 at the same commission rate according to a filing to Muscat Securities Market.

Qatar: Broadband breadth - Ooredoo Qatar will complete a national 4G LTE network footprint in 2015 whilst also aiming to achieve a fibre penetration of 100 percent for its fixed broadband users. Ooredoo Qatar had some 200,000 users connected to its fibre network in December 2014, three years after launch of the high-speed triple-play service. Most of the existing fixed broadband customers have been transferred from lower-bandwidth ADSL connections.

Qatar: Smart move - Ooredoo Qatar has been confirmed as a Lead Partner in the Smart Cities Council, a coalition formed to accelerate the move to smart, sustainable cities. Ooredoo has joined firms such as IBM, Microsoft, MasterCard and Cisco. More than 10 major cities within Ooredoo?s footprint are classified as 'mega-cities' with a population of more than ten million. According to research group IHS Technology, the number of smart cities worldwide will quadruple by 2025, with at least 88 smart cities all over the world, up from 21 in 2013.

Rwanda: Fast films - Tigo Rwanda has launched its 4G Internet service. Tigo has also announced an exclusive partnership with iROKOtv, the largest distributor of African films, who will provide a subscription-based service for Tigo 4G customers. Subscribers will have unlimited access to IROKOtv's Video on Demand archive.

Saudi Arabia: 4G roaming - Mobily now offers 4G LTE international roaming services in 35 countries, involving 61 operators. Coverage includes UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, USA, UK, Australia, France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, China, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore and other countries.

Saudi Arabia: New modem - Mobily has launched a 4G modem which offers connection speeds of up to 150 MB per second, and its WiFi network signal strength reaches up to 250 metres in addition to the possibility of linking 32 devices at one time. The modem is being offered with various packages of 5GB for three months period for SAR 475 (USD 126), 10GB for three months period for SAR 550, 20GB package for six months period for SAR 930 and the Infinity package of 60GB for 12 months for SAR 1,480. Mobily is looking to enhance its fleet of 4,500 4G sites.

South Africa: Data dealing - MTN South Africa is to launch Data Share in early 2015, MyBroadband has reported. Subscribers will be able to link up to 20 other MTN numbers to their Data Share profile, and MTN said the service would be available free-of-charge. Most pre- and post-paid customers will be able to use MTN Data Share. In particular, it will be available to MTN PayAsYouGo, MTN Top Up, My MTNChoice, and MTN Classic Contract subscribers.

South Africa: Digital leverage - SLA Mobile has announced an agreement with IT management solutions provider Blue Turtle Technologies to offer managed digital services in Africa. Blue Turtle is a South African enterprise technology company focused on optimising, enhancing and leveraging existing IT investment. SLA Mobile will leverage the new relationship to bring managed digital services including direct operator billing and identity management to the African and LATAM markets.

South Africa: Fast-track discharge - The Communications Workers Union (CWU) has again challenged Telkom's restructuring plan, saying it has dispensed with temporary jobs ahead of new legislation protecting them. The Labour Relations Amendment Act came into effect on 1 January and limits the use of temporary contracts exceeding three months. BDlive reported that in December some 480 contract call centre staff were dispensed with.

South Africa: New MTN manager - MTN Group has appointed Debbie Minnaar, as General Manager for Products and Services within its Group Enterprise Business Unit with immediate effect. She will be responsible for determining MTN's ICT offering to enterprise customers across the MTN Business in Africa and the Middle East. During her 24-year tenure at IBM, she established subsidiaries in 35 new territories, and co-developed a Growth Markets Strategy for China, India, Brazil, the Middle East and Africa.

Syria: Renewals regularised - The government announced last week that it had agreed to award long-term licences for the two companies operating the country's mobile phone network, according to the Syria Report. It will was reported in August 2014 that MTN Syria was close to negotiating a 20-year mobile licence.

Tanzania: Health plan - Vodacom Tanzania and Jubilee Insurance have signed an M-Pesa payment agreement. The bimaAFYA health insurance product provides medical cover in a low price range. It gives users access to over 150 service hospitals and will cater for in-patient and out-patient and maternity care on a cashless basis. BimaAFYA, will enable enrollment in a medical insurance service equivalent to what M-Pesa is to the financial services, said Vodacom Head of Marketing and Communications, Kelvin Twissa.

Zambia: Optimised PoPs - Gilat Satcom has announced that its PoPs in the UK and Zambia have been optimised to receive and transmit traffic from IPv6 addresses. It will be shortly upgrading its PoP in Tanzania. Gilat provides broadband over satellite and fibre to more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Ofer Doron, VP Engineering of Gilat Satcom, said the rapid growth in the number of devices, people and Web services on the Internet means that IPv6 will be the backbone of the world's broadband network in the future.

Zimbabwe: Executive loss - Steward Bank, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless, has let its Chief Executive Officer Kwanele Ngwenya go. The bank posted a USD 3. 7 million loss in the six months to August last year due to high costs incurred during business re-alignment. In a statement the bank?s board said the departure of Ngwenya without giving reasons. He was due to step down on 31 January 2015.